Save 70% off Wave Alchemy’s Revolution iconic drum machine instrument for Kontakt Player

Wave Alchemy Revolution 70 OFF sale

Plugin Boutique has launched a sale on Wave Alchmey’s Revolution, a drum machine instrument for Native Instruments Kontakt and the free Kontakt Player. The instrument offers the sounds of 14 iconic drum machines, including the 909, 808, 606, 78, Linndrum, Drumtraks, Drumulator, OB-DX and many others. Winner of ‘Best Software Instrument of 2017’ (awarded by […]

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Robohop Hip-Hop/R&B virtual instrument added to Roland Cloud

Roland Cloud RoboHop

Virtual Sonics has added another FLAVR series title to its Virtual Cloud collection of software instruments. Robohop features a variety of sounds that capture the vibe of contemporary hip-hop/R&B. The instrument includes 2 full octaves of pitched 808 kicks and a drum kit based on the TR-808 and TR-909. The collection of 53 genre-specific patches […]

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Waves 70% off Wave Alchemy’s Revolution drum machine for Kontakt Player

Wave Alchemy Revolution

Plugin Boutique has launched a sale on Wave Alchemy’s Revolution, a virtual drum machine instrument for Kontakt and the free Kontakt Player. Imagine the dream of owning a studio filled with the most influential Drum Machines of our time. Imagine having instant access to the TRUE authentic sound of the iconic 909, 808, 606, 78, […]

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Wave Alchemy’s Evolution & Revolution drum machines 50% OFF!

Wave Alchemy Evolution Mix Page NKSPlugin Boutique has launched a sale on the Evolution drum machine instrument for the free Kontakt Player from Native Instruments. Imagine having instant access to the most visionary and forward-thinking library of drum sounds and sound design tools ever created. Imagine being able to intuitively layer, dynamically browse and modulate each layer independently with powerful […]

AudioRealism 909 Day Sale: Save 30% off ADM drum machine & other plugins

Audiorealism 909 saleAudiorealism has announced a sale on its ADM (AudioRealism Drum Machine), a virtual analog emulation and sample player that brings the sounds of the 808, 909 and 606 drum machines from Roland. Booming bassdrums, saucy cymbals and crispy snares can be used to describe the sound of drum machines from the early 80’s. ADM contains […]

Roland TR-8S hands-on: a more playable, powerful drum machine

Roland today unveils the TR-8S, an updated take on the AIRA TR-8 drum machine. We’ve been testing it – and it looks like exactly the sequel we all wanted.

Basically, if you threw out the limitations of the original TR-8, put it in a more attractive case, and expanded the sound and performance powers of the box, of course you’d make us happy.

So the TR-8S loads your own samples, atop a wider, updated range of built-in models of classic Roland gear and preloaded sonds. It’s more playable and immediate, thanks to expanded controls and functions. It has effects sends for each part, plus a bunch of new effects to choose from. It lets you record automation, so you can make the sound shift along with your drum patterns. It integrates more easily with other gear, thanks to separate audio outs, and with your computer, thanks to a multichannel USB connection that also lets you use the onboard effects.

To put it even more simply: the TR-8S makes more sounds, and it’s more fun to play. Oh yeah, and it looks pretty instead of fugly.

It’s still not a sampler – you only get sample playback. And it’s not a new drum synth – while it models the original Roland machines, there are only emulations of old circuitry, not any new models.

But instead of just feeling like an 808/909 rehash, the new TR-8S really feels like a new hub for sequencing and drum parts, one that is equally at home with gear or a computer.

At a glance

Price – US$699 (EUR699 with VAT), available this month.

Overview of what I found essential in the update as far as workflow – basically, a totally killer live machine:

  • Analog Circuit Behavior models of the 808, 909, 707, 727, and 606 (with some variants), plus sampled sounds
  • Load your own stereo + mono samples from SD card
  • Stereo + six assignable audio outputs – or configure up to those six as trigger outputs
  • Dedicated trigger output and trigger track
  • Stereo audio input (with routing through effects from input or round-trip from computer via USB)
  • Master effects, plus configurable per-part send effects, and new effects options
  • 128 patterns storing 8 variations + 3 fills
  • Program sub-steps, change the length of each part (for polyrhythms), chain patterns together
  • Auto-Fill for automating rhythmic variations
  • Lock parameters to steps (yep, p-locks!), or record automation
  • Works as multichannel audio + MIDI interface when connected via USB to a computer
  • Tune, decay, and assignable control for each part
  • Record accent, flam, and velocity via dedicated pad
  • Save tempo, kit, and knob positions and effect assignments in patterns – and back up your whole set to SD

And in place of the reverb and delay on the first model, Roland quietly made the “S” into an effects beast, with 43 effects in total (want to complain again about how this should have been analog?). That includes some sidechaining powers, and the ability to add these effects to external gear or your computer via USB. From Roland:

INST FX – 1 per instrument
Compressor, Drive, Isolator, Transient, Bit crusher, Comp + Drive, Crusher, HPF, LPF, LPF/HPF, L/H Boost, L Boost, H Boost

REVERB
Ambience, Room, Hall1, Hall2, Plate, Mod

DELAY
Delay, Pan, Tape Echo

MASTER FX
Compressor, Drive, Over Drive, Distortion, Fuzz, Crusher, Phaser, Flanger, Env.Amp, Env.Filter, LPF, HPF, LPF/HPF, L Boost, H Boost, L/H Boost, SBF, Noise, Isolator, Transient, Transient2,

Others
SIDE CHAIN (for EXT IN)
SCATTER (as one of Fill-In function)
Sample reverse
LFO – 1 LFO per kit with instrument settings of parameter and depth

Breaking down the new features

After some time with the machine, there’s a whole lot of different dimensions here that add up to a box you really want to use live.

Let’s not forget the reasons the TR-8 became a hit, shortcomings or no. It pretty well nailed widely-used 808 and 909 sounds and behaviors. But that alone wouldn’t be enough – to become a live gigging favorite, the TR-8 had to also add hands-on controls. And that seems to be why so many people adopted it. The faders alone make it instantly more appealing than a whole host of competing drum machines. It means you can actually play the thing, as if it’s an instrument. So any number of fancy, expensive drum machines are useless as live instruments if you’re navigating those features by diving through menus rather than playing them.

The problem with the original was, the box wasn’t much more than a nice interface to those sound models. Even adding 727 sounds was a paid add-on. And the available effects were limited. Plus there was the weird “scatter” function, which scrambled patterns rhythmic variations and effects in a way that seemed to cater to EDM fans, but afforded very little control. And let’s not get started on the toy-like green case and blinding lights.

The “S” revision does more than just address some shortcomings. It manages to present a much more capable device, all round.

More sounds. The TR-8S has a host of sounds included right out of the box: 808, 606, 909, 707, and (Latin!) 727. (Let’s assume they’re saving the Roland CR-78 for a small Boutique Series remake?) Roland also says these now incorporate new modeling tech running on a new processor, though I haven’t yet been able to evaluate how that compares to their other recent gear.

Note again that this means they’ve modeled the analog circuitry of their original analog drum machines, not simply included samples of the sounds those make. That’s the Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology they like to tout.

The unique ploy here is being able to mix up that engine with other sample-based sounds, including your own.

Sample loading. That “S” in the name is obviously for sample playback. There are a bunch of new built-in samples, plus an SD card slot round the back of the unit. Load your own samples there, and adjust basic parameters (speed, start point, direction).

You can’t load big one-shots, so this is about custom kits, not playing stems or backing tracks. There’s no live sampling capability, either.

But you do get to build kits up from your own sounds or mix and match with the TR’s circuit models.

Smarter, more fluid rhythms and expression. The step sequencer is of course part of the draw of the TR line. But now you can break up some of the potential monotony of that interface. Sub-steps and fills let you program in more complex rhythms. (The original TR-8 let you do basic fills and variations, but now you can hit one button and program in exact sub-steps.)

You can also automate fills and variations. You can add 8 variations and chain up to 128 steps. (The previous model lacked chaining and additional variations.)

In addition to step-programming accent, you can also use a single, velocity-sensitive pad for adding more levels of velocity live. This isn’t an MPC by any means, but it fits the workflow of the Roland, while allowing more nuanced performances. You can add flam, too, via the step sequencer. And all of this is just as easy as toggling steps normally is – so complex rhythms become easily accessible.

This unassuming green pad lets you add velocity and not just push-button steps and accents.

The other reason all of this matters: think of the TR-8S as a powerful rhythm programmer. Because it has trigger outs, you can use this power with synths and other drum machines, not just the internal TR sound engine.

More patterns and automatic chaining mean the TR-8S lets you make more complicated rhythms – but while retaining the simplicity of the original. The same is true of adding subdivisions to a rhythm. Tap “sub” and you can add more complex rhythms on an individual step.

For automating variations, you can now use sophisticated fill controls.

Powerful effects. The first TR-8 had some basic effects, but the TR-8S has effects that work both on individual parts and on the master, with more complete control over each. There are independent stereo reverb and delay sends for each instrument.

You simply dial in the effect you want, and then it’s always there for use from the CTRL knob on each part.

Above those signature faders, a new third “control” knob is assignable and lets you tweak parameters and effects sends for each part.

Everything is tweakable. Each sound gets its own tune and decay parameter, plus an assignable controller (the additional knob) which you can use to gain access to more parameters or to the effects sends. This means you can take those TR sounds and warp them, or work with your own samples in new ways. And those three knobs let you shape sounds as you play.

You can also record motion automation and add it to patterns. That was definitely an oversight on the original TR-8, but now that it’s here, it pairs nicely with the new rhythmic features and assignable controllers.

Multichannel connections with gear and computers. Separate outputs – at last!

For use with gear, you get eight separate outputs, plus a stereo external audio input. This means you could trigger external gear, use external effects, add internal effects to external gear, and use external mixing and recording. (You don’t get melodic sequencing – you’ll have to do that externally – but the interface of the TR-8 isn’t really built around that anyway.)

Connect via USB, and you get not only MIDI I/O, but multichannel I/O with all those audio ports. You can use just a USB cable to connect to the Roland MX-1 mixer, too, via what they call AIRA Link. You can also even route round-trip to the TR-8S’ effects from a computer. (Why would you do that? Simple – still more controls, all in the same interface.)

Loads of I/O – input plus separate outputs/triggers. Connect to a computer, and all of this is also an audio/MIDI interface.

Flexible lighting. It’s not just the green trim that’s gone. The LEDs now seem designed for users and not just to look flashy in music retailers. So in addition to dimming the lights, you can set color and glow options to keep track of what you’re using.

What it’s like to use

The important thing to me about the TR-8S isn’t really its power on paper, but the fact that you get all of this as something you can play and improvise with.

There’s some light menu navigation required to get things working the way you want – deciding what the CTRL knob for each part does, adjusting a particular parameter, selecting your kit.

But then once that’s done, everything is accessible without menus or complexity of any kind, in a spacious, obvious control layout. That frees you up to focus on rhythm and sound, directly through physical interaction – not through a bunch of programming and editing.

I spent an afternoon with Nick de Friez from Roland here in Berlin, combining the TR-8S with a MakeNoise 0-Coast semi-modular synth and an original Roland SH-101. (A newer SH-01A would be an obvious substitute.)

We actually had two TR-8S units on hand, so … we used both of them.

And here’s some extended audio of the four instruments together. Some of those crazy sounds are the new effects on the TR-8S:

What I learned here was: this is a heck of a lot of pure, unadulterated fun. And it’s fun that’s uniquely easy to share with others, because the front panel is roomy and easy to understand.

I’ve also uploaded audio – not so much to try to document the sound of the box, so much as the expanded range of rhythms and sounds that come from its new functionality, and how freeing that might be in a real-world live improv.

Bottom Line?

Roland’s own moniker for the first TR-8 was “rhythm performer.” What’s cool about the TR-8S is that it actually delivers on that idea.

It was easy to see the first round of AIRA as just an inexpensive reboot of stuff from the past. But I think it’d be unfair to characterize the TR-8S that way. It now presents a really complete sequencing workflow, and a set of use cases for outboard gear (both analog and digital), and for combination with a computer.

Do you still need to be an 808/909/vintage Roland fan to apply? Yeah, probably. But that no longer has to be the end of the story.

What already promises to set the TR-8S apart is, it has an unparalleled amount of sequencing power right on the front power, coupled with those sounds.

Consider the main competitors in this price bracket. MFB’s boxes are cool, but they’re mainly about sound. Elektron’s Digitakt is cute and compact and powerful, but that power isn’t nearly as accessible under your fingertips – and it lacks separate outs for instruments and triggers. Arturia’s DrumBrute has full analog synthesis for each part coupled with dedicated controls specific to them, and 12 separate outputs. It’s arguably more focused as an instrument, to be sure – but it’s more limited in sound (synth only, no samples) and sequencing (roll your finger along a touch strip for live rolls, but none of the sub-step and more powerful variation and fill features of the TR-8S).

Here’s the funny thing: each of these boxes becomes a nice pairing with the TR-8S.

The first AIRA was middle-of-the-road thanks to a friendly interface and known sounds. But this one does that and then also can literally sit at the center of the other gear you might like to use. It removes the kind of limitations that might make you make boring sounds or boring music, but keeps the simplicity so that people can feel free to jam.

Really, if there’s anything bad to say about the TR-8S, it’s that Roland aren’t using their circuit modeling techniques to open up this box to new sounds. We have software with great drum synths (including recent releases of Ableton Live and Maschine), and new hardware with new synthesized drum (Moog DFAM, Arturia DrumBrute), and modular, and so on. And we have a ton of music that already uses those sounds. The absence of solo and undo – plus MIDI transmit options – cry out for a firmware update already, too.

But apart from those criticisms, everything about this box – the balance of the design, its capabilities – represents the best of what we’d hope for from Roland. And I think the combined utility of this box will make it wildly popular onstage.

Expect this to be one of the devices that helps lead the charge toward spreading more live sets.

There’s more to say about the specifics of how MIDI and performance options work (and some room for improvement in some of these details for future firmware updates). So expect more on this topic soon, plus some videos Roland is producing on how the gear is used.

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Roland quietly made their DJ controllers into live-hybrid machines

Roland’s 1.10 DJ controller update adds a bunch of features – and plays to the machines’ strengths, drawn from the TR drum machine line, as live machines.

First, a recap:

Why Roland?

The DJ-202/505/808 line may look like bog-standard Serato controllers with Roland logos on. But they promise to be something else: DJ controllers made for people who also produce.

We already know that the “DJ” market involves a lot of producers dabbling in DJing and a lot of DJs dabbling in production. And anyone doing one or the other invariably finds they want to play a little, or do a remix, or finish a podcast, or practice mixing, or any of a number of things that might be served by DJ hardware.

So then the question is, what do you get? Two CDJs and a dedicated DJ mixer are expensive. Two turntables work, too, but that can be overkill if you want to play around with some digital files. So, then you’re back to a number of inexpensive DJ controllers, but they tend not to be much fun to play with, and they don’t have much utility in production.

That’s where the Roland/Serato line gets really appealing. The platters have extremely high precision and low latency drivers – meaning they work really well for beat-matching (including if you’re a producer learning to do that), and even some scratching. The 505 and 808 work well with turntables, too, meaning you can use a pair of decks with Serato for digital vinyl if you want. And, crucially, the 505 and 808 still function as mixers with the computer turned off.

I’d love to see other DJ gear that meets the above, but because of those jog wheels, there isn’t much.

What’s new in 1.10

It could have ended there, but it appears Roland is investing into making the DJ line better at the task. What Roland is calling their “1.10” firmware update is actually pretty hefty, particularly for the more full-featured 505 and 808.

Remember, the 505 and 808 really are AIRA drum machines as well as controllers. And even with a TR-909 sitting on my desk, they’re rather useful ones. So without plugging in a single cable, you’ve got these drum machines ready to play at a gig. They even work with the computer unplugged in standalone mode, so you don’t have a paperweight when your PC is off (like when a Windows 10 update is installing… grrrrr).

More sounds. [202, 505, 808] The DJ-808 adds low toms, rim shots, rides, and 606 crash and 808 cowbell to its 606/707/808/909 sounds. The DJ-202/505 add kits for 606 and 707 to their existing 808 and 909 – a total of twelve kits, up from eight. All round, you’ve got a lot of new kits and individual sounds – and you can swap those out live as you play for added variety.

These aren’t just samples, either – they feature the same component modeling approach you’ve heard in other Roland drum machines (and specifically the TR-8 AIRA), so they’re based on realistic digital models of the analog circuits. That’s why there are no “sound kits” to download or something like that.

TR-S master effects. [505, 808] The TR-S master effects include drive/distortion, a pretty punchy compressor, and new transient follower. All three let you drive your drum jams over a track.

Channel effects. [808] The DJ-808 also includes a new delay, phaser, a new noise effect, and bitcrusher. Since the DJ-808 also acts as a mixer/hub for gear, that’s… a lot of fun. The mic input also gets its own reverb, delay, and delay-reverb combo.

TR-S editing. [505, 808] The TR-S isn’t as full-featured as a dedicated sequencer/drum machine, but it already hides a lot of power. To that, you now have the ability to copy kits (DJ-505) and nudge and tap tempo (808).

TR-S step loop. [505] Also cool – now you can loop through just some steps instead of the whole loop on the TR-S sequencer, so handy both for Serato sequences and the drum machine.

Tweak settings. [202, 505, 808] My only slight frustration with the DJ-202/505 is that the jog wheel/platters are so sensitive, at first I was bumping the top surface of the platter while using the effects. (I’ve… learned not to do that.) There’s now a sensitivity adjustment buried in settings, which if decreased, seemed to me to have a negligible impact on accuracy but made it slightly harder to bump. It’s a “release” setting, so impacts when you let go of that jog. Your mileage may vary. All three models now also have a Backspin Length setting, which lets the wheel jog through more of the track than a single rotation normally would. I found that turning up this length let me jog through more of the track quickly.

And the DJ-808 is now a live hub

Look, if you’re going to splurge on DJ gear, most controllers leave you with big, unwieldy coffins that turn into paperweights when the computer is off and take up space when you want to remix or jam or produce.

So here’s what’s cool: the DJ-808 isn’t thatand it’s a vocal processor, and it’s a TR-8-style drum machine with 606/707/808/909 sounds onboard and effects. That gives you up to 11 stereo channels and one mic. And while this sounds a little – let’s say psycho – now we can compare space.

One table, plus two CDJs and a mixer and … uh, sorry, you’re pretty much out of space, and you’ve only got two decks.

One table, plus DJ-808, laptop, and some toys. Now you’ve got four decks, the mixer, a drum machine, and all your toys, and you can still plug in a mic and go to town.

Plus, bonus: all these inputs record to the recorder in Serato DJ. So, you don’t have the old problem of remembering a portable recorder / cables / flash memory card / the level was set wrong / the inputs weren’t all there / etc. etc.

Of course, the same is true if we’re talking at home.

Now, if you’re cringing because this might be a musical trainwreck with some DJs, hey, I didn’t say the thing would practice for you. But for people who are good at improvising on all this stuff, it’s a godsend.

The only bad news: the DJ-505 is crippled, in that the switches on the front let you choose either the external input or your laptop, but not both. I get that Roland may want to differentiate products here, but since the 808 does so much already, I hope the next firmware update lets us use its inputs all at once the way the DJ-808 did. The 505 is a lot more affordable and more portable than the 808, and it still packs the essentials.

You hear that, Japan? There’s my 1.20 firmware wishlist.

Anyway, 1.10 downloads are available for all the hardware. And the TR-S is so much fun on the DJ-505 that I’m finishing now a separate guide to using it as a performance tool, plus guides to mapping the whole range to VJ applications. Stay tuned.

New Version 1.10 Update for the Roland DJ Series Announced

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Erica are set to bring the 909 into the modular age with their latest gear

Erica may be known for their tube-powered, retro-Polyvoks post-Soviet chic – but now they’re taking on the TR-909, in modules and a powerful drum computer.

This isn’t just another 909 remake, though. Take Roland’s legendary drum machine not just as a selection of well-known sounds, but as a way of thinking about synthesizing and sequencing percussion. Then, make those eminently patchable, so you can wire them into other gear and create some new, original ideas. Erica founder Girts Ozolins told me early on in starting the company that he thought the real appeal of modular was in customization – that it was something that allowed musicians to make something their own. And that seems to be the essence of the idea here. It’s a deconstructed, rather than reconstructed, 909.

On the sound side, then, you’ve got two friendly-looking, handsome, patchable modules. You can bolt these in and grab the knobs and it looks like you’ll be pretty happy. But there’s also plenty of CV when you want to get more modular.

On the sequencing side – and I’ll be the first to say this is what has me excited – comes a 909-style sequencer with accents, multiple tracks and banks, and extras like probability, track length (for polyrhythms), live and step modes, and more. You can sync it with MIDI, but there’s also an absurd amount of patchability.

And there’s modulation, too (here’s where we get way out of 909 territory) – two LFOs for modulating drums.

Just as promising, the whole thing comes from a collaboration with French DIY drum machine maker e-licktronic, who have made a name for themselves as a kind of cult-following underground drum machine maker for DIYers. The problem with e-licktronic was their projects required way too much assembly for all but the most dedicated soldering iron gurus. This brings some of their expertise to a wider market – niche, to be sure, but at least allowing you some time to, like, finish tracks and not just finish hardware assembly.

Full specs:

12x Accent outputs
1x CV/GATE track
2xLFO with independent or synced to the BPM frequency
Time signature per track
Pattern length per track
Shuffle per track
Probability per step
Retrigger per step
Instant pattern switching
Solo/Mute tracks
Step/Tap record modes
16 Banks of 16 Patterns
Instant pattern switching
Pattern linking
Midi sync in with start/stop
Track mode
Firmware upgrade via MIDI SySex

It also seems this is just the beginning – Erica have a whole drum module system in store: “Toms, Clap, Rimshot, HiHats, Cymbals, sample-based drum module and, to pull all system together – dedicated a drum Mixer with extended headroom and a limiter of unique design”

But you don’t have to wait long to get started. The kick and snare modules ship early March, alongside that sequencer.

Hey, Santa Claus! Yeah, I…. oh, wait, $#(*&, it’s March.

Hey, St. Patrick!

NAMM news: Drum Sequencer

NAMM news: Bass Drum & Snare Drum

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Roland gets you going on their DJ controllers, Serato with free samples

The Roland-Serato combination stakes out a clear niche: adding live techniques to DJ routines. Now some free sounds and videos will get you started.

There is a dizzying array of gear out there, and a lot of really similar. I’ll talk separately about the DJ-XXX line from Roland, but it’s pretty easy to sum up. All three units have built-in TR-S drum machines from the Roland AIRA line for 808 and 909 sounds, with the 505 and 808 adding additional dedicated controls and progressively more AIRA features and more mixer functionality. (The 808 even has a vocal processor on it.) And the Roland devices also give you more hands-on access to Serato’s sample playback and sequencing features. Combine this with wheels that are really, really good, and have uncommonly low-latency performance, and these are exceptionally playable controllers. (That’s what you can’t see in the photos – I’ve tried all this gear, and only the Roland controllers at the moment really feel responsive; other than that you’re into digital vinyl or CDJs.)

Roland obviously want to get your attention on those sampling features, as they’ve partnered with Loopmasters to release some free content.

There’s no proof of ownership, so you can also give these things a go even if you don’t yet own the hardware. (Cough.)

Disclosure: CDM is partnering with Roland to release some of our own guides to the DJ-XXX devices.

Onto those sounds: the TR-S sequencer can trigger internal analog-modeled 808 and 909 sounds, which is a little like having a mini AIRA TR-8 in your hardware. (TR-808 and 909 sounds are there now; TR-606 sounds are promised, too, in a future update; 606 and 727 were rolled out to the AIRA TR-8 in the fall.) But when you’re ready for some different sounds, the TR-S can also be used together with Serato’s internal sample playback facility.

There are actually two separate DJ sample sets. They’re also delivered as WAV, so — for instance, I dropped these in an Ableton set as well as into Serato for a bit of messing about.

First, the ROLAND TR-S DJ SAMPLE PACK is available on the download pages of the DJ-202, 505, and 808, so for example:

https://www.roland.com/us/support/by_product/dj-505/updates_drivers/

That gives you a whole new set of kits. All you have to do is tick a box to approve a user agreement. Then you get a few megs of sounds organized into what they call 80s (yay!), Drum’n’Bass, EDM, and Trap (though you can gleefully ignore those genre labels if you like, they’re just kits).

More specific are the Loopmasters sounds. If you’re willing to sign up for a free Loopmasters account (if you have one already, you’re sent straight to the download), you can get another 13 megs of sounds. (You can even untick the box signing you up to the newsletter.) They’re here:

https://www.loopmasters.com/register

These aren’t so interesting on their own – these are mostly vocal one-shots, stabs, and sound effects – but they’re there more to show you what someone good with sample manipulation can really do on these. Watch DJ Skillz with the same kit. The takeaway – pitch manipulation and scratch skills can transform this into something else entirely:

That’s already been the strength of Serato – creating a core set of effects and sampling and sequencing features and then making it easy to access them. The Roland hardware lets you get responsive scratch results with wheels and without the hassle of digital vinyl, plus an intuitive layout for the other features of the software.

This all draws heavily from hip-hop, but I think even in other genres (hihi, techno) there’s potential for using this hardware to unlock hybrid sets where you jam on the kits or remix tracks – especially useful when you’re playing your own productions and want them to be recognizable but don’t want to hear them verbatim all over again. And that’s to say nothing of the potential for unlocking synchronized visuals, another Serato strength.

Here’s a look at that DJ-505 sampler access. (The DJ-808 is basically identical; the DJ-202 also can access the sampler but has fewer controls, so it’s a portability/cost tradeoff equation.)

And watch more of what this can look like in action – with OP, Recloose and DJ Spinna:

More on the DJ lineup and the rest of the AIRA line (neon green!):

https://www.roland.com/global/categories/aira/

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Behringer go nuts, plan to clone every historic synth, drum machine

The ARP 2600, Octave’s The Cat, the Synthi VCS3, Korg MS-20, the Wasp, the 909, the 808, and more… it seems Behringer are going to make cheap versions of just about everything.

In placeholder product pages on their site, you’ll see a whole bunch of remakes of historic classics, from synths to drum machines, Synthi to Roland. Product images aren’t there yet, but a lot of these will ship as keyboard instruments.

Also, in what could disrupt the boutique-heavy modular market, Eurorack versions appear to be planned for many or all of these.

Products:

Synths and Samplers at Music Tribe

Drum Machines

Pricing and availability aren’t there, either, but the timing now suggests that NAMM is coming – and Behringer seem to be in the habit now of pre-empting rivals by teasing stuff before they announce it. (Whether that’s meant to take the wind out of the sails of rival press events, or spook competitors, or amp up would-be customers, or a combination, tough to know.)

The models:

Synthopia break down the synth side of this, bringing together specs and including some videos of the original models:
http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2017/12/13/behringer-teases-arp-2600-wasp-synthi-clones/

But there are drum machines there, too: 808, 909, “999,” an apparent Linn Drum clone (LMX) and Oberheim DMX (OMX here). Synthananatomy.com has a run-down of those:

http://www.synthanatomy.com/2017/12/the-next-bomb-has-burst-behringer-teased-5-new-analog-digital-drum-machines-lmx-omx-rd-999-rd-808-rd-909.html

Some of the product names get slightly scrambled, but others don’t.

Of course, this also means Behringer are now getting into remakes of products whose creators and original brands still exist – KORG, Roland, Roger Linn, Tom Oberheim, and so on. It’s not unexpected – they’ve got access to inexpensive analog filters and oscillators that exactly replicate the originals.

But it does suggest a shakeout is about to happen in the business, especially if these prices are disruptive. Will customers still be willing to pay more for independent makers (let alone other big brands)? Will the availability of cheap remakes make it tough to bring out new designs – or, alternatively, will it effectively mandate coming out with something new to compete?

For now, we’re in the position we so often are with Behringer: speculating, as the brand gets way ahead of everyone else with a teaser, long before the specifics of price and design emerge. And that seems to be part of the design.

But this story may not end here. It’s possible giants like Roland and KORG could find legal reason to go after Behringer, depending on how the products are presented. They might also find other mechanisms in marketing and sales to take action.

You’ll find specs on Behringer’s site. Let us know what you think.

ARP image (CC-BY) Rosa Menkman.

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